Lok Adalat cannot act like civil court: SC
Tuesday, January 29, 2008 19:26 [IST]
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has ruled that Lok Adalats cannot act as civil courts as they do not have any power to pass an award or orders without the consent of the parties to the dispute and are meant only for conciliation.
A three judge bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices G P Mathur and R V Raveendran said that the role of a Lok Adalat was purely conciliatory in nature and it cannot pass any order like a civil court.
The apex court passed the order while upholding an appeal filed by the Punjab government challenging a Lok Adalat decision to enhance the compensation awarded by the Motor Accidents Tribunal to the family an accident victim. The Lok Adalat had raised the Rs 1.44 lakh compensation by Rs 62,000.
The Punjab Roadways Authority whose vehicle was allegedly involved in the accident challenged the Lok Adalat's decision on the ground that its consent was not obtained before passing the order.
However, the Punjab High Court dismissed the Authority's plea on the ground that all proceedings before the Lok Adalat are deemed to be judicial proceeding and that a Lok Adalat is deemed to be a civil court under section 22(3) of the Legal Services Authorities Act. Following this, the government appealed in the apex court.
Upholding the Punjab government's contention, the apex court observed, "We are rather dismayed at the manner in which the entire matter has been dealt with, undermining the very purpose and object of Lok Adalats. At every stage the Lok Adalat and the High court have acted in a manner contrary to law".